Rise and Grind

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Sunday, July 26, 2020


Paul McKinley

This past week has looked a bit different from standard operating procedure. As opposed to the usual variety of tasks and webinars, I really focused on a single project for scientific research funding legislation our committee is drafting. It’s still unclear the level of detail we’re allowed to provide on these types of assignments via social media or blog posts, so I do want to be mindful of that for now. In essence, I spent most of the week working at the intersection of our legislative language and input from scientific stakeholders like professional organizations and research institutions. The stakeholders have all had a lot of feedback on our bill, so while that has certainly kept me busy this week, it’s reaffirming to see extensive engagement from so many advocates for science in the legislative process. This will also be the topic of my capstone presentation, so as I get approval for which information I’m allowed to present, it will be easier to provide details in posts for the remaining weeks of the internship.

That brings me to the next point: there are only two weeks remaining of the SPS summer internship! That’s crazy to think about. Some of the other interns in our office are also starting to wind down their work, so we’re scheduled to have an intern going-away party this coming week on Friday. I was disappointed to miss our SPS social hour this past week, but in general these virtual gatherings either with the SPS crew or folks in the House Science office have been a welcome source of socialization and decompression. 

Towards the end of this past week, we finally had some clear skies over mid-Michigan and we got a clear view of the Comet NEOWISE. Binoculars was definitely the way to go, and I’ll make a shameless plug for the app, Night Sky which helped pinpoint the comet’s location. My brother has gotten into photography during this quarantine era, and he was able to capture a pretty nice picture of the comet with a telescoping lens, which I’ve attached below. In any case, for anyone in the northern hemisphere who hasn’t seen it yet, this mass of ice, dust, and ionized gas is worth checking out -- it’ll be a lengthy wait (6,800 years) before it stops by our neighborhood again.

Comet NEOWISE from mid-Michigan (7/24/20)

Paul McKinley